I'm a #instapoet (why I hate it)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Although I'm on break until mid-April, I'm still on IG as words_ofamoonchild. I've expanded my content to reposting motivational posts I find there. I'm still somewhat dissatisfied with my account, but there are people on that app that I don't want to lose touch with, hence why I'm sticking around.

Submitted: April 06, 2019

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Submitted: March 29, 2019

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In 2017, I wanted to take my poetry somewhere "bigger": a personalizable space, with a variety of features and a wider audience. So I immediately thought of Instagram. The #instapoetry trend has been on the rise, and everyone wants to be the next Rupi Kaur. I wasn’t the only reader inspired by "instapoets", who had thousands of loyal followers, influence, and a voice that could echo in more spacious valleys. I wanted what they had for myself.

 

In October of that year, my account started its slow growth process. I did everything successful accounts do to gain followers: hashtags, posting consistently and at a certain time, arranging my posts according to an “aesthetic” ( by color, theme, and style), interacting with other users... I even created a support group for poets where we could back one another's content, and that lead me to join the groups they're in. So I can say I've made a few friendships on Instagram, although most of them were skin-deep. You like and comment on someone's poems, they thank you and do the same for you. You direct-message each other on occasion and that's about it.

 

Several months in, the instapoet dream was beginning to materialize. I was getting hundreds of likes and was nearing a thousand followers. Soon, I could start a live broadcast and have a decent amount of viewers. I could rake in the likes and comments without using a dozen hashtags. I could be finally considered a semi-great account, only I never reached that number. It was frustrating, to say the least. I believed I was doing everything. I read the articles, downloaded the apps, but my account never reached 900 followers, and I felt more and more discouraged.

 

Does this sound shallow and superficial to you? It now does for me. Why did I care so much about a numerical value that an algorithm supplied to my poems? Why was I fretting over my account's performance and whether it was "good" enough? Why did logging out make me feel more relieved than logging in?

 

For one, Instagram is used to advertise products, creative content, ideas, even oneself, to sell to an audience. While the fantasy of inspiring millions draws many to the app, once you start seeing your art as an item of consumption, the pressure to please devours the joy of creating. There is no passion in selling your heart's floras to a market that values quantity over quality and will graft and take cuttings as soon as you surmount mediocrity.

 

Take a look at some of the popular poetry accounts on Instagram. A good number of them don’t post poetry in its true form as much as quotes with regurgitated implications. They sell déjà-vus masked as free verse to an audience that appreciates words but has little interest in art or depth. The comments lack evaluation and appreciation and most importantly, critique. You can post your writings on Instagram, but the community won't aid you in your growth as much as try to swerve you to their side. Some writers are more forward with their intents; they’ll comment a short paragraph about liking your content and then ask you to visit their account. Others are more ambiguous; they’ll like several of your posts within the span of a minute, leave hearts or flower emojis. Although their actions benefit your account in terms of numbers, nothing saps your satisfaction like doubting the true intentions of your supporters.

 

While Instagram has its number of bland “poetry”, there is also remarkable talent. I have a protégée there (check out Gowri Rekha, please) who deserves ten folds of the admiration she receives. However, the sub-par recognition that small but promising accounts obtain, compared to that of the big fish that employ their creative energy to popularize their accounts is upsetting and unmerited.

 

Now, Instagram is a great tool for making connections to advance: seasoned writers, artists, publishers, entrepreneurs. If you have the time, patience, and money to turn your account into a business, then your experience might not be unpleasant. It took me over a year to realize that that was never my goal; I don’t want to sell my poetry, I don’t want to give it a value or stamp a number on it. I would like it to be a natural remedy instead of a packaged pharmaceutical drug, or a bird that’s never known a cage or a souk.

 


© Copyright 2019 Christy the moonchild. All rights reserved.

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